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New York City Ballet: Serenade, Hallelujah Junction, Duo Concertant, Western Symphony
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New York City Ballet: Serenade, Hallelujah Junction, Duo Concertant, Western Symphony

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Hallelujah Junction
Duo Concertant
Western Symphony

Founders: George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Master: Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Music Director: Andrew Litton
Resident Choreographer: Justin Peck
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Associate Dir. Communications: Katharina Plumb
Communications Associate: Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 19, 2016

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Serenade (1948): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (Serenade for Strings), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Erica Pereira, Teresa Reichlen, Russell Janzen, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and the Company. Set to Tschaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings, this was Balanchine's first ballet choreographed in America. (NYCB Notes)

What’s a ballet season without Serenade, opening with those sumptuous strings, with the nuanced, synchronized feet of the female ensemble in blue tulle, and with the sweeping arms of the Corps, pointing uniformly in a sublime, magical moment. Each segment of Tschaikovsky’s luscious Serenade for Strings expanded the experience. Teresa Reichlen swung her arms and legs with full circular shapes, before bending her languorous torso forward and backward. Rebecca Krohn was imbued with glowing imagery, as well, always stunning, especially in profile. Erica Pereira created rapid runs, leaping into Russell Janzen’s arms. Adrian Danchig-Waring was muscular and magnetic.

Tonight, I noted the exceptional lighting by Mark Stanley, after Ronald Bates’ design. The shadows were exquisite. I noticed that, when Mr. Janzen enters the stage, spellbinding shadows ensue, and later, in the ballet’s final minutes, the women’s gowns are lit from within, as if the dancers are candles. Balanchine designed this ballet from an actual rehearsal, with one dancer falling, one arriving late, one out of step. He never expands the humor, but rather the refinement and regality of his choreography. The Corps is awarded its own applause, and rightly so, as this ballet opens with such cohesive, subtle motion in hypnotic stillness. This music haunts the mind for days.

Hallelujah Junction (2001): Music by John Adams, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Kirsten Lund Nielsen, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Duo Pianists: Elaine Chelton and Alan Moverman, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Amar Ramasar, Andrew Veyette, Sara Adams, Emilie Gerrity, Kristen Segin, Indiana Woodward, Devin Alberda, Daniel Applebaum, Harrison Ball, Joseph Gordon. John Adams, a New Englander, studied at Harvard. He was influenced by John Cage and Steve Reich, and he uses both electronic and instrumental motifs that combine romanticism and minimalism. (NYCB Notes).

On a dimly lit, raised stage, the duo pianists, Elaine Chelton and Alan Moverman, faced each other and created an electric and mesmerizing ambiance to Peter Martins' brilliant choreography. For me, this work is one of his most masterful and potent choreographic ventures. It is taut and tight, with a white on black effect in costumes and lighting, plus intensity of focus and persona. Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar gave a tour de force performance, with lightning spins and punctuated movement, exactly on the beat. Ms. Hyltin is one of the Company’s most stylized dancers, so suited to this abstract motif. Andrew Veyette was in his element here, with finely tuned turns and buoyancy. He was a study in perfection here, a solo performer in stunning spotlight. The vibrant, sparkling Adams score, in sync in volume, tone, and tempi, is evocative of Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Kudos to Ms. Chelton and Mr. Moverman. I would love to hear this music on its own, sometime, to absorb its magnetism fully.

Duo Concertant (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violinist: Arturo Delmoni, Pianist: Nancy McDill, Performed by Lauren Lovette and Anthony Huxley. Stravinsky had dedicated this "Duo Concertant" to Samuel Dushkin, a violinist friend, and the two performed this for years in Europe, starting in 1932 in Berlin. Balanchine choreographed to this score for the Stravinsky Festival, and Kay Mazzo danced with Peter Martins. (NYCB Notes).

Lauren Lovette and Anthony Huxley, two youthful, ingénue Principals, are casually placed by Nancy McDill’s piano, with Arturo Delmoni nearby on violin. The dancers appear to chat silently, enveloped by the music. Suddenly, as if by an internal spark, the two began dancing, in an abstract, but affectionate manner. Ms. Lovette exudes youthful freshness, kindling an air of enchantment and innocence. Mr. Huxley is like a young Prince, with refined inner thoughts, while he imbues his eager partnering with genuine warmth. They take time to draw the audience's attention to the McDill-Delmoni duo’s onstage Stravinsky, then to themselves, as they romanticize and extend their arms and faces into brief right stage spotlights. I noted that this was the most sensitive and gripping performance of Balanchine’s Duo Concertant, with the dancers’ hands feather-touching in the circular spotlight. In fact, a first, Ms. McDill and Mr. Delmoni were also holding hands, in their bows. Tonight, musicians and dancers fluidly connected in pure eloquence.

Western Symphony, Fourth Movement and Finale (1954):. Music by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by John Boyt, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Lauren King, Chase Finlay, Brittany Pollack, Jared Angle, Sara Mearns, Zachary Catazaro, Laine Habony, Harrison Coll, and the Company. Some of the American folk songs in this ballet are “Red River Valley”, “Good Night Ladies”, and “Rye Whiskey”. (NYCB Notes).

There’s nothing more festive to end a City Ballet program than Balanchine’s homage to Western cowboys and showgirls, his 1954 Western Symphony. Hershy Kay’s orchestrations of “Red River Valley”, “Good Night Ladies”, and a variety of folk dance tunes are rousing and sentimental. Tonight’s “Allegro” leads were Lauren King and Chase Finlay, who wore that large cowboy hat we’ve seen on so many, over the years. Mr. Finlay exuded charm, poise, and joyful spins. Ms. King is always exuberant and vivacious. The “Adagio” was led by Brittany Pollack and Jared Angle. Ms. Pollack had the role mastered, with coy gestures and backward-sideways, rapid pointe steps. Mr. Angle partnered with attention and charm. But, it was the “Rondo” that drew my gaze, with Sara Mearns and Zachary Catazaro in glorious agility, dizzying fouettés, and astounding athleticism. Laine Habony and Harrison Coll were featured with lovely lyricism, and the Corps in Karinska’s black cowboy costumes and brightly colored ruffles was exceptional.

Corps Dancers in Balanchine's "Serenade"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Lauren Lovette and Anthony Huxley in Balanchine's "Duo Concertant"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at